W2W4: Two Teams Looking To Rebound As Rangers Host The Blues

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Players To Watch

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Rangers-Kevin Klein: The newest New York Ranger makes his Broadway Blueshirts debut Thursday night, one day after being acquired from Nashville in exchange for Michael Del Zotto. A defensive-minded defenseman, Klein will take Del Zotto's place in the lineup, but don't expect a similar type player. Klein is much more apt to take care of business in his own end rather then leading the rush up ice the other way. The most goals he has scored in a season was four, and his career-best in points is 21, established in 2011-12. This year he has just one goal and three points in 47 games played. Klein will slot in on the third pair alongside John Moore, who shifts back to the left side now that the right-handed shooting Klein is a Ranger, and it will be interesting to see how much Alain Vigneault uses him in his Rangers debut. He has been a top four defenseman in his career so there will be healthy competition on the Rangers blueline as a result.

 

Blues-David Backes: The captain of the St. Louis Blues very well could be the captain of Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics next month. According to many reports Backes and Rangers captain Ryan Callahan are on the short list of players being considered for the honor, along with Zach Parise and Dustin Brown. No matter if he is named captain or not Backes will be looked upon for leadership and production by Team USA's coaches and management. The 29 year-old Backes has 17 goals and 36 points on the season, and could challenge his career-highs of 31 goals--reached twice before--and 62 points--set in 2010-11. However Backes is in a bit of a slump, with just one goal in his 13 contests, and none in his last seven. Earlier this season he torched the Rangers for a pair of goals and three points in a 5-3 Blues win on October 12th in St. Louis. He is one of only four players since 2008-09 to record over 1,000 hits and 200 points--joined on that list by the Rangers Callahan, the Kings' Brown, and Washington's Alex Ovechkin.